Gronk's Back!

Brady and Gronk in Bucs jerseys instead of Pats gear is weird.

Jim Rome
April 22, 2020 - 9:42 am
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski

USA Today

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When the news broke, it was simultaneously surprising and not at all surprising. Rob Gronkowski is coming out of retirement and he’s going to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. The fact that Gronk is coming out of retirement isn’t exactly a shock. There have been rumblings about that for a while. And the fact that he’s going to be a Buccaneer isn’t exactly a shock either. That’s where his quarterback is.

And let’s be honest, Gronk and Tampa are a match made in heaven. Not Tampa in terms of the team or the offense, I’m talking about Tampa the place. This is where Gronk was meant to play. He’s not a cold weather guy, he’s a Tampa guy. Yo Soy fiesta!

I know Dick Vitale is fired up.

Jump in the pool on that, Dickie V!

The Bucs and Patriots worked out a trade that will send Gronk and a seventh round pick to Tampa for a fourth round pick. And there is a lot to unpack.

First off, let me get this part of the way: I really hope Gronk is healthy and stays healthy. He’ll celebrate his 31st birthday in a few week – Yo Soy fiesta! – but when he retired at 29, he looked like he was about 59. He looked and sounded like a broken man at that point. That was the oldest 29 year old I’d ever seen. And with good reason.

There was the back surgery that cost him a season in college. Then a torn ACL, broken arm, bad hamstring, and two more back surgeries. And the fact that they drained a liter of blood from his quad after the Super Bowl win over the Rams. He hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2011 and has missed an average of four games per year since then.

So when I say that I hope he’s healthy, I mean it. Multiple back surgeries are nothing to JACK with. YET, He was still able to leave the game with his health actually intact. For his sake, I hope he can maintain it.

And from a playing standpoint, when he was on the field in 2018, while he wasn’t the dominant Gronk that we all remember, he was still dangerous. Do you remember the go-ahead drive against the Rams? New England ran Hoss Y-Juke three straight times and each time, it had a completely different, yet successful, result. Because the defense couldn’t tell if Gronk was going to run a route or flatten a defender.

That is what Tampa is getting. That is what Brady is getting. Of course, TB 43 and Buc Nation are pumped. Old man Tommy just got the ultimate security blanket with the oversized white gloves.

Yesterday on the show, Carson Palmer laid out how he expects it will go with his old coach, Bruce Arians, and Brady. Bruce will bring a bunch of his favorite plays. Tom will bring a bunch of his favorite plays. And now he’s bringing his favorite target, too. 

Gronk isn’t just the best tight end ever, he’s also the best blocking tight end ever. Even if he never catches a pass, he’s still an asset.

But of course the Bucs are hoping for more than just that. Can Brady and Gronk do what so many other people from colder climates have done – move down to Florida when they get older and have a better life? Can they recreate what they had in New England in Cigar City? At this point, who knows? We just don’t know. There are too many variables, but if I’m Bruce Arians, Jason Licht, and the Bucs, I am fired up to find out.

And then there is the other side of this coin. The Patriots side. On the one hand, they just received a fourth round pick for a guy who was retired. They had zero leverage in the situation and they still got a fourth round pick for a soon-to-be 31 year old guy who wasn’t with them last season and wasn’t going to be with them this season. 

And no Patriot fan, there was no way in hell Gronk was coming back to ball with Jarrett Stidham; more importantly, no way in hell he was coming back to play for Bill Belichick.  Lets’ be real, that more than the injuries themselves is probably the reason Gronk left in the first place: because that old mumber sucked the joy of the game right out of that big lug: sucked the life right out of Gronk. Gronk didn’t retire from the game, he retired from the Hood. And the first chance he got to play for someone else, he took it. That’s no coinky dink.

Same with Brady. They both could have returned to the Patriots but instead chose to play for statistically the worst franchise in the history of sports. The hell does that tell you. It tells you they were sick of the Hood. He literally ran both of them off. The means don’t justify the ends. Not when you’re not winning rings they don’t. These dudes still want to play; they don’t want to play for the Hood. And can you really blame em.

But back to the draft pick: lots of people are rushing into to say Belichick got worked on that deal: I don’t see that way. He wasn’t going to have Gronk. And Gronk wasn’t going to play for anyone but the Bucs: he would have stayed retired reportedly. So in that sense, Belichick got something for nothing. So he has that going for him. Which is somewhat nice. I guess. But you know what’s better: having Brady and Gronk. And he could have.  But they both decided they’d rather be in Tampa than Foxboro. 

And can you blame them? You tell me what sounds better:  – another year of Belichick grumping it up in New England or hanging with Brady and Bruce “win or lose, we booze” Arians in Tampa? Gronk with coach who says “win or lose, we booze”? Are you kidding me? That’s a total no-brainer.

And brace yourself for this: but Tampa is a more desirable place to play than New England. That’s just a fact. 

Once is a fluke, but twice is a trend. And I know Pats honks will say that’s unfair and we’re talking about a guy in his 40s and a guy in his 30s who’s busted up. And that’s true. But the overall look is terrible. We’re not talking about a pair of ham-and-eggers, we’re talking about the greatest quarterback of all time and the greatest tight end of all time. You had them and now they’re both in Tampa.

And you have to wonder if the coach and the Pats culture is a big part of that. You have to wonder if maybe you don’t have to be an a-hole all the time. Maybe it’s not so awesome to be an a-hole 365 days a year. Maybe you let your guard down every now and then and let guys know they’re appreciated. The coach and culture that ripped off rings also appears to have driven away its two biggest stars.

But even the most die-hard Pats fan has to admit that seeing Brady and Gronk in Bucs jerseys instead of Pats gear is weird. And they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves.